Is there a way to adjust the scaling of items on the screen in Mac OS X so they are 1 to 1 with the real world? I.E. When I'm working with a line in illustrator that is 5 inches long, and the zoom is 100%, I'd like the actual size of the line on screen to be 5 inches.

I've dug into the System Preferences but can't seem to find anything related to this.

I'm using Snow Leopard on a 24" iMac


This is complicated issue due to the fact that Illustrator performs zoom based on the document, not comparisons to the real world. Zooming to 100% will always be an approximation, as will Fit to Screen. Since the resolution of the screen can vary on each computer as well as the size of the screen and the size of the document, Adobe makes no secret that actual size on the a screen will never be exact.

Your best solution is to perform periodic printouts. If you are concerning yourself with inches and actual size then that tells me that you are working on something that will end up in print (otherwise you should be working in pixels). If your final medium is print, then perform periodic printouts and see how it will look. Your screen can't reproduce the resolution of a printer, so print be your litmus test for if it looks good.

If you are still interested in having it match the real world actual size, spend a few minutes finding the exact zoom that matches up. IE: grab a ruler and make a box 5" wide and then change the zoom until the box is 5" wide. Write the zoom down and either stay at that zoom or just go back to it when you need to compare.

A little trick: To avoid spending all day finding the zoom, put the cursor in the zoom percentage box (it's in the bottom left corner of the screen on the mac, not sure about Windows) and hit the up/down buttons, it will change the screen and allow you to quickly find the right size.


Run the Windows version of Illustrator. Windows has a option to measure 1 inch on screen, and adjust overal windows scale to it. You could also run the windows Illustrator on you Mac under a virtual machine like with Virtual Box.

Apple promised to get rid of its 72dpi heritage with the introduction os OSX 10.0 and make the GUI fully scalable, but we never heard of any implementation of fluent OS scaling ever since the first OSX presentations.

  • I've heard plenty about it, and you're not missing anything. – Hasaan Chop Nov 30 '09 at 7:40

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